Arrividerci, Lute!

Brad JamesCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2008

For those of us who are either native Tucsonans or have spent a considerable amount of time in this city located some two hours down I-10 from the greater Phoenix area, this is a sad day. While I am a native of Manti, Utah, I was called on my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to Tucson, Ariz. and while I always had admired Lute Olson from afar, my respect for him grew all the stronger as I labored in the Sonoran Desert. The man is an icon, of course because of his expertise in coaching the Wildcats (24 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the UofA) but also for the love affair the community of Tucson has with him. After coaching the Iowa Hawkeyes for nine successful seasons, his arrival in southern Arizona in 1983 changed the fortunes of one of the nation's worst programs. Remarkably, soon after Lute arrived, star players such as Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott began arriving on campus and leading Arizona basketball to heights it had never before experienced. Eventually in 1997, he even led the Wildcats to the national title, an occurrence which to this day is among the greatest things to have ever happened in Tucson sports. Most NBA fans are familiar with all of the great talent that has passed through the University of Arizona's basketball program as alums include such talents as Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry and Andre Iguodala, just to name a few. While fans of rival PAC-10 opponents are rejoicing, this is a sad time for me. Hopefully, my Denver Broncos can rise off the mat and raise my spirits after their bye week, but this indeed hurts. With that said, good luck Wildcats and Bear Down Arizona, Bear Down Red & Blue!!!